Used 2010 BMW X5 M
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2010 BMW X5 M is a highly impressive vehicle, offering performance and practicality on par with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S for tens of thousands less.
The new 2010 BMW X5 M performance crossover is the sort of vehicle we don't want to like, especially since we hold the "M" badge in such high esteem. BMW's Motorsport division has built its reputation on a stellar string of highly focused driver's cars, but now its engineers have gone and slapped an "M" on a brutish luxury SUV. Big, heavy and tall, the X5 M would seem to be the antithesis of every M car that has come before. And yet there's no doubt that BMW has masterfully created one of the best sporting SUVs to date.
BMW has dabbled with high-performance X5s before (it all started with the 2002 X5 4.6is), but this is the first time that the crossover SUV has received an official M treatment. As with other M cars, the X5 M gets an exclusive engine (shared with the mechanically identical X6 M), this time a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V8 that develops a massive 555 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque. Notably, this is 5 more hp than the gonzo Porsche Cayenne Turbo S puts out. A sprint between the two is likely to be a wash -- no small accomplishment for the X5 M given that it costs about $40,000 less.
Also on tap are a number of modifications to make the X5 M handle more like a sport sedan. Standard 20-inch performance tires and a special sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers certainly help, but then, a number of crossovers have such features these days. The X5 M's trump card here is what BMW calls "Dynamic Performance Control" (DPC), a sophisticated torque distribution system that works in conjunction with all-wheel drive to send power wherever it's needed most. In hard cornering, for example, the outer wheels receive more power, which counteracts speed-sapping understeer.
The rest of the 2010 BMW X5 M is pretty much just like any other X5, with a high-quality interior, comfortable seating and plenty of luxury-oriented features such as a hard-drive-based navigation system, a rear entertainment system and the latest (and actually functional) version of iDrive. The beefy V8 also gives the X5 M a substantial boost in towing capacity to 6,600 pounds when properly equipped -- another first for a BMW M model. The only notable omission is the ordinary X5's optional third-row seat, which is nowhere to be found on the X5 M's features list.
The X5 M stacks up impressively well to the competition in its freshman year. In addition to the various V8-powered Cayenne models and the four-seat X6 M, the X5 M's rivals include the Infiniti FX50, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. The Infiniti does zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds (versus the X5 M's 4.7) while undercutting the BMW by $25,000; the Range Rover Sport Supercharged has a new 510-hp V8 this year; and the Benz boasts a wicked naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V8. But at the end of the day, the X5 M is simply one of the best high-performance SUVs on the market. Turns out the Motorsport division's magic works on 2.5-ton crossovers, too.
Trim levels & features
The 2010 BMW X5 M is a five-passenger ultrahigh-performance luxury crossover SUV. As you'd expect at this lofty price point, standard equipment is ample, including 20-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, a self-leveling electronically adjustable active suspension with M-specific sport tuning, headlight washers, front and rear parking sensors, xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, eight-way power heated front sport seats, a sport steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a 12-speaker CD/MP3 stereo, the latest version of iDrive and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic.
Options include ventilated "multicontour" seats, heated steering wheel and rear seats, a rearview camera, a head-up display, a six-DVD changer, an iPod/USB adapter, a 16-speaker premium sound system, four-zone climate control, a power liftgate, keyless entry/ignition, extended leather trim, a rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio and towing preparation.
Performance & mpg
The 2010 BMW X5 M is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that pumps out 555 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. A six-speed automatic with manual shift paddles is the only available transmission. BMW claims a 0-60-mph sprint of 4.7 seconds and a maximum tow rating of 6,600 pounds when properly equipped -- a highly unusual pair of strengths. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
The 2010 X5 M comes standard with ABS with brake assist, stability control, dual front side-mounted airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, and driver and front-passenger whiplash-reducing head restraints. Crash tests have not been conducted, but the structurally identical BMW X5 scored a perfect five stars in government crash tests for frontal-impact driver protection, four stars for frontal-impact passenger protection and five stars for front and rear side protection. Also, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the X5 the highest rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.
Thanks to a bevy of high-tech mechanical bits, the 2010 BMW X5 M handles better than any midsize crossover SUV has a right to. There's "Active" this and "Dynamic" that in just about every area of the X5 M's operation, a battalion of high-tech aids designed to hold the laws of physics at bay. The results are impressive: Even seasoned professional drivers will be amazed at this BMW's prodigious grip and athletic character. Just don't expect the X5 M to deliver driving enjoyment like an M3 or M5 -- its high center of gravity and 5,000-pound-plus curb weight are to blame.
Thanks to an electronically adjustable active suspension, though, the X5 M is docile over broken pavement. And of course, there's 555 hp under the hood. Though the V8 doesn't provide a very stirring soundtrack, its prodigious power and torque make passing maneuvers exceptionally easy.
Take away the "M" badges sprinkled liberally throughout the X5 M's interior, as well as the special M sport seats, and you've got the same basic interior we've seen in the X5 since its 2007 redesign. Fortunately, this is one of the most elegant cabins BMW has ever built; indeed, the new 7 Series sedan's dashboard looks a lot like the X5's. The construction is precise, the materials are high-quality and the instrumentation is crystal-clear. As expected, those M sport seats provide superb support and comfort.
The X5 M has BMW's latest iDrive interface, which includes more user-friendly physical buttons next to the control knob and a more sensible menu structure. It also has the X5's familiar joystick-like gear selector, which drivers may find confusing at first due to its separate "Park" button and odd feel. With the rear seatbacks folded, the X5 M offers 75 cubic feet of cargo space.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
After driving the 2010 BMW X5 M, there were numerous subtitles for this story bouncing around in our head. Because it was only a handful of years ago, when BMW introduced the 2004 X5 4.8is, that it said, "There will never be an M version of the X5," we were tempted to write, "Never Say Never."
One blast down the drag strip in this 555-horsepower breadbox in Monte Carlo Blue had us shouting, "12-second SUV!" If we believed the rumor (and we don't) that one of the primary reasons for the X5 M's existence is to satisfy the conspicuously well-funded market among the mobsters in Russia, then we could've run with "From Russia With Love."
Finally, one serene drive home on L.A.'s notoriously poorly constructed freeways where we discovered this X5 M's ride was far better than that of our long-term 2008 BMW X5 4.8i almost compelled us to put down, "Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde."
A New M
It's not an accident that the newly M-bedazzled X5 has the ability to be both a remarkable performance machine and a completely livable grocery getter. If you had no knowledge of the record-breaking performance potential contained within the X5 M, you'd never know it had a dual personality.
Dr. Kay Segler, who recently took on the role of president of BMW M GmbH, said recently during the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show that for a BMW vehicle to be an M, "It must be able to be two vehicles in one — on one hand a pure sporting machine with the highest levels of performance, and on the other, like any BMW it can be used for every daily need with the same comfort and capability of any vehicle in the range."
While our domestic automakers are busy pummeling one another with muscle cars, the Germans seem to have a fascination with overpowered SUVs, and who are we to complain? What's not to like about a twin-turbo V8 propelling a 2.5-ton vehicle to feats it never ought to reach?
That's why the X5 M is so damned mesmerizing. It shouldn't be able to do the things it clearly does, and it shouldn't be this easy to drive at the same time. It simply shouldn't exist at all. In fact, unless you spot the M badge, subtle fender flares and intercoolers in the front bumper, you'd never suspect this was anything more than an ordinary X5 with factory 20-inch wheels. We love that.
So when the VBox reported a 5.1-second time to 60 mph and quarter-mile effort of 13.2 seconds at 107.7 mph (before we'd even had a chance to optimize our launch protocol), we knew the X5 M wasn't just a rule breaker, but also a record breaker.
Let's Light This Candle Already
Pressing the M button on the steering wheel (assuming you've already programmed your M-menu for total annihilation) and manually selecting 1st gear enables launch mode. Then pressing the brake pedal as hard as is humanly possible while introducing the back of the throttle pedal to the floor will raise the engine rpm, and a checkered flag appears on the instrument cluster. This is when things go a little blurry.
The checkered flag illuminates just as the vehicle begins to creep forward a fraction of an inch because the giant disc brakes can barely hold back the 501 pound-feet of torque generated by the two twin-scroll turbochargers force-feeding the direct-injected 4.4-liter V8. At this very moment, the X5 M's driveline is literally trying to twist itself to pieces.
Releasing the reins at this point causes the X5 M to nearly wad up four 10-inch-wide pieces of pavement beneath its tire contact patches. The all-wheel-drive X5 M literally leaps off the line and shifts up (and belches, actually) exactly twice at the 7,000-rpm redline before reaching 60 mph in 4.5 seconds (4.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and then once more before it crosses the finish line in the quarter-mile at 12.8 seconds at 108.5 mph. Holy smokes, that's a new record.
There was a time, not long ago, when people like us were swooning over an 8.0-liter V10 Dodge Viper running in the 12s, but an SUV? You've got to be kidding.
It's no accident that the 2010 BMW X5 M produces exactly 5 hp more than the 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, 52 hp more than a Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and 135 hp more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 . Depending on which stats you choose for bench racing, the ML63 and Cayenne Turbo S collectively share the title of fastest/quickest SUV on the planet.
But that's over now. Unless Koenigsegg starts building 1,000-hp SUVs (and it could happen), you've got a new record-holder now, because the X5 M is the world's quickest and fastest SUV.
We've heard those who say that owning the fastest SUV is like being the skinniest contestant on TV's Biggest Loser. For the record, we think that's a terrible thing to say, and not at all fair to the X5 M.
The brilliant part is that the $86,225 X5 M is $40,000 less expensive than a $125,775 Cayenne Turbo S. True, a properly kitted (and even more expensive) Cayenne with variable ride height, skid plates, low-range gearing and decoupling antiroll bars would be able to leave the pavement-bound X5 M at the trailhead, but, really, who would ever take a Cayenne Turbo off-road — besides us ?
Still Not a Convert?
But drag strip performance only accounts for a fraction of why the X5 M is so remarkable. BMW has developed a new power-steering system for the X5 M with variable mapping that adapts effectively to both sporting occasions and parking lots. Unlike typical heavy-effort BMW steering (which appears to be on the road to extinction), the X5 M delivers unfettered feel and precision without syrupy heft and resistance.
Like the steering, the computer-controlled suspension (self-leveling in the rear) goes about its business largely unnoticed — that is, until you notice that the X5 M is not beating your internal organs to a foamy froth. Working in concert with several systems, the X5 M's multimode dampers and active antiroll bars react to changing road conditions thanks to a new high-speed FlexRay data transmission protocol, first used fully on the 2008 BMW 7 Series. In other words, the X5 M can humiliate most sports cars on a canyon road, grip our skid pad with 0.91g and keep a case of champagne from erupting in the cargo bay. That's a neat trick, especially considering the tires it wears are run-flats with short sidewalls pumped up to 38 psi.
Luckily, the X5 M's tires and brakes are as monstrously sized as its appetite for premium fuel (we validated the EPA's 14 mpg combined figure). Up front, the tires are 10.8 inches wide and the brake discs are 15.6 inches in diameter and clamped by four-piston fixed calipers. In the rear, the tires are 12.4 inches wide with 15.2-inch discs and two-piston sliding calipers. Stopping from 60 mph requires just 116 feet, which is, again, remarkable considering our vehicle's 5,332-pound as-tested weight.
With a large frontal area of 11.7 square feet and an untidy 0.38 drag coefficient, the X5 M didn't really surprise us in the slalom when its air turbulence actually blew the cones over. We were a little more surprised that its stability control system can't be disengaged, and the combination of so much speed and so much weight really gave the system's algorithms a workout. The best we could manage while keeping cones in their painted boxes was 63.5 mph. There were a couple unofficial 65-mph runs, but the cones wouldn't stay put.
The long list of standard features on the X5 M is nearly as long as the options list on a Cayenne Turbo S, notably: iDrive (the new one), navigation system, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, panoramic sunroof, 16-speaker premium audio and premium leather, among others.
Unlike with a Porsche, even the few options on our X5 M seemed reasonably priced. We appreciate that a compact spare tire ($150) is even available because run-flats usually mean a can of goo and set of rosary beads are all you have to get you to a BMW service center.
For $600 you may opt for the Cold Weather package that includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a ski bag. The Driver Assistance package contains automatic high-beams, head-up windshield display and rearview camera plus several top-view cameras for $1,800. BMW's Comfort Access keyless entry/starting system is $1,000 as it is on all BMW vehicles. Finally, those black roof rails will run you $100 and the grand total for our X5 M was $89,875, or $2,050 under the base MSRP of a Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG.
The Complete Package
It's hard to imagine a more complete high-performance SUV package than the 2010 BMW X5 M. It set new records at the drag strip. It's as easy to drive as any normal X5, and steers and rides better than any previous example. Its 14 mpg average certainly will not earn you a medal for fuel efficiency, but it is the best figure in its immediate peer group. And while $86,000 is unquestionably a large sum of money, that price is at the very least "fair" when it's compared to those of its rivals — especially when you line up standard and optional equipment.
And if the X5 M is an example of what we can expect from Herr Dr. Segler and his cohorts, we can't wait to see the 2011 BMW M5 with the same twin-turbo V8. It's bound to be at least 1,000 pounds lighter, is said to be making close to 600 hp (possibly the result of a Formula One-derived KERS system and driven through a new eight-speed double-clutch automated manual transmission.
Why have they decided to make such a vehicle? Because they can.
Executive Editor Michael Jordan says:
There's something so right about pounding down the road in a 555-hp sport-utility vehicle. There is no more outrageous statement of what human beings can accomplish given enough money, enough time and a ready supply of gasoline. It is a crime against good sense, and yet also the very thing that made the first-generation X5 4.4i a favorite with anyone with a wallet full of gas credit cards.
But the 2010 BMW X5 M also has a real mission in life, and that is to introduce us to a vehicle from the M division that can be both an insult to every right-thinking human being on the planet and yet a perfectly comfortable and even practical device for everyday use. This X5 M rides far better than its more prosaic X5 counterparts, picking up its feet over the seams in the concrete freeway like a fine sedan. It really gestures at the future of M vehicles, especially its engine, which reportedly will replace the current 5.0-liter V10 for the next BMW M5.
Of course, we've debunked the rumors that this vehicle was largely designed to appeal to the newly rich class of Russian industrialists, who have more money than sense and fairly brutal sensibilities when it comes to automotive performance. And yet our John Adolph, Senior Video Specialist, took one turn behind the wheel of the X5 M and said, "Now if I was the president of Gazprom, had my own personal oilfield, and drove around at high speed in a city full of Russian thugs, I'd want to be driving this."
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2010 BMW X5 M Overview
The Used 2010 BMW X5 M is offered in the following submodels: X5 M SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV AWD (4.4L 8cyl Turbo 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2010 BMW X5 M?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.